Marketing

How To Develop a Social Media Strategy for Small Business

Jul 21, 2022

Earn new customers and impress the ones you have with a solid social media strategy for your small business. Here’s how.

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Gary FroniewskiContent Writer
How To Develop a Social Media Strategy for Small Business

What we'll cover

According to a 2022 GetApp survey[*] of social media marketing pros at businesses of all sizes, social media is extremely critical to their company’s overall business success. Not only is social extremely important—it’s nearly the most important, second only to the business’s actual website.

If that wasn’t enough, in the same survey we also found that social media is the top area where businesses are increasing their investment from 2021 to 2022. That means the competition out there is fierce, and it’s no longer enough to simply be present on social media. 

It’s now necessary to develop a tailored social media strategy that will help your business excel in earning peoples’ attention and interest. Because if you don’t, someone else surely will, leaving your brand loyalty in the dust.

If you’re a small business owner or marketer working to shore up your social media game (or dive in for the first time), this guide will share what a successful social media strategy for small business entails along with six steps that will help you enact one of your own.

What is a social media strategy?

A social media strategy is a detailed plan of how a business uses social media to find, connect with, and ultimately sell their products or services to prospective customers. It also includes how businesses will engage with existing customers to earn repeat business and build brand loyalty.

A successful strategy includes specific goals, tactics, and predetermined key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and improve performance over time.

Step 1: Get to know your customers

The first and perhaps most important step to developing any marketing strategy is determining who you’ll be marketing to. This includes everything from demographic data like age and location to things like career, income, education, and personal interests.

Getting as specific as possible with this information will allow you to go beyond the basics when targeting your marketing efforts, and it may even help you discover a wellspring of potential customers you never knew you had.

One of the best ways to go about this process is to develop a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a research-based picture of your ideal customer based on the information above as well as insights into how they spend their time online, their challenges with your product or service category, what they do in their free time, etc.

SharpSpring[1] notes that 71% of companies that exceed lead generation and revenue goals have documented buyer personas, and adopting this tactic for yourself is well within reach. Follow the tip below to get started, and if you want some help, social listening software can allow you to discover what your prospective customers are talking about (and where).

social listening

An example of social listening functionality from Digimind (Source)

Tips to get started

Map out the basics and focus on your most loyal customers first: Hone in on customers’ demographic information, location, the ways in which they engage with your marketing and sales funnels, etc. You can even give your buyer persona a name to humanize the profile even more. Start small since you can always create more buyer personas later.

Step 2: Set SMART goals

The most intelligent strategies always have the SMARTest goals. That is: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

social media strategy steps

What this means for a social media strategy is first choosing an overarching objective and being as specific as possible with how you want to measure your success and how long it will take to get there, always mapping back whatever you choose to your business’s overall goals.

Some examples include:

  • Increasing engagement with promotional content by X% over the next quarter.

  • Averaging X monthly clicks to your website from paid social ads over a six month period.

  • Earning X email subscription sign ups from calls to action in social content over the next quarter.

If you set SMART goals, you can easily track your progress, and you can be sure that whatever you’re doing maps back to the bigger picture for your business. Doing this planning ahead of time removes the guesswork from your daily activities and lets you focus on doing valuable work with the knowledge that it’s contributing to your overall success.

Tips to get started:

Choose a maximum of two SMART goals for your social presence, write them down, and start taking steps to achieve them. If you’re a newer business, gaining followers and increasing awareness is a potential option. If you’re on the verge of launching a new product or service, engagement with and clicks to your website from promotional content could also work.

Step 3: Choose the right KPIs for your business

An important part of setting SMART goals is making sure they are measurable, and that means choosing KPIs that are both relevant to your overall business goals and achievable on social media.

These KPIs can vary from platform to platform if you so choose, but we recommend starting with ones that are applicable across multiple if possible. It makes things easier to measure and allows you to compare your progress on one social platform against another.

Some example KPIs to consider:

  • Engagements: The number of times people interact with your social content.

  • Link clicks: The number of clicks from social content to your website.

  • Audience growth rate: How much your follower count increases (or decreases) over time.

  • Customers’ testimonials: Positive mentions of your brand in user social content.

  • Brand mentions: How often social media users are mentioning your brand in general.

Any of these are worthy starting points, and the most important thing to consider when choosing one is how it will ladder back up to your overall goal. 

If you’re pursuing an increase in social share of voice for instance (the amount of conversation around a topic on social media that includes your business), brand mentions and even customer testimonials may be the route you want to take. Or if you’re just starting out and hoping to increase brand awareness, audience growth rate or engagement with your content may be the better option.

Regardless of what you choose to pursue first, having clearly defined KPIs that contribute to your business goals (sensing a theme here?) is essential for ensuring your strategy is having the intended impact on your business success. Social media platforms often have their own analytics tool as a starting point, but if you want to take a deeper dive into the data you can always enlist the help of social media analytics software.

social analytics

An example of a social media analytics dashboard from Brand24 (Source)

Tips to get started:

Avoid falling into the trap of vanity metrics. A vanity metric is one that sounds good in a meeting but doesn’t provide tangible results for your business. More followers can be a good thing, but if your primary goal isn’t driving awareness about your brand, it may not be the best. Focus on KPIs that ladder up to your overall objectives!

Step 4: Determine which platforms to focus on

After you’ve become familiar with your audience and chosen some SMART goals, it’s time to decide what social media platforms you’ll focus your social presence on. Below is a brief overview of the five main platforms businesses use today.

Facebook

With over a billion daily users, Facebook is the largest social network out there. Facebook is connected to nearly every facet of our technological lives, and that means businesses have an opportunity to reach more people with Facebook than just about any other method.

With Facebook being so strongly focused on connectivity between networks of people, posting business updates and events, product promotions, and awareness-building content that begs to be shared is a great route to take.

Twitter

As the most conversational social media platform, Twitter is the home of sharing opinions (and, often, hot takes). What this means is that, for businesses, posting engaging content that gets people talking about your brand is best accomplished on Twitter.

It’s also a great way to engage with both prospective and existing customers on your own content as well as elsewhere. People love it when businesses interact with them on social media, but try not to go too overboard. Focus on answering questions, providing customer service, and conversing with people who engage with your content.

Instagram

As one of the more visual social media platforms, Instagram excels for businesses who have products to show off (or sell). Eye-catching imagery is a must on Instagram, so focus on sharing product photography, branded visuals that turn your photo grid into a story, or user-generated content captured from your followers. 

Instagram-specific features like Reels and Stories are also a great way to stay connected with your customers online. Sharing daily happenings or a business update as an Instagram Story or utilizing Reels to get creative with your content can both help set you apart.

YouTube

YouTube has a bigger barrier to entry than some of the other platforms we’ve discussed, but it’s still becoming increasingly useful for businesses trying to market themselves on social media. Best reserved for businesses who are able to create their own content, YouTube is an excellent place to share videos around subject matter expertise that show people a brand is knowledgeable about the field they’re in.

If you don’t currently have the resources to create video content of your own, YouTube might be more of an aspirational platform for you with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter acting as better starting points.

For more resources to help you get started with YouTube, visit our Guide to YouTube Thumbnail Images and browse the list of resources at the bottom.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the social media platform of professionals which tends to inform the type of content that performs well there. If your organization provides a professional service or you’re marketing to professionals themselves, LinkedIn could be a great place for you to network and share your content.

Although it is more geared towards professionals, LinkedIn is becoming more and more of a conversational platform. This opens the door for businesses to share their stories and invite people to weigh in or share relevant stories of their own.

Tips to get started:

Focus on one or two social media platforms (at first). Choose based on the industry you’re in and your business’s current level of growth. Building an overall business hub? Consider Facebook. Hoping to engage your target audience on a daily basis? Choose Twitter. Promoting and selling products? Instagram may be your best bet.

Step 5: Create (and schedule) content

Once you know who you’re trying to reach and what platforms you want to tackle, it’s time to create some content. This can take the form of text-only posts, photos, videos, or platform-specific features like polls.

It’s easy to just get out there and start posting, but you’ll want to be more strategic than that by choosing content types based on the cost, barrier to entry, and your social media goals. 

For example, if you’re a retail company engaging in eCommerce, you’ll probably want to show off product photos. If you’re a local business that holds in-person events, keeping people up to date with information on when and where they can find you is a great tactic.

You can create this content yourself with online graphic design software, hire someone full or part time to do the work for you, or utilize more fully featured graphic design software geared towards businesses to create and manage your content.

Aim to post regularly and remember to engage with the people who interact with your content. Depending on how much content you post, the size of your following, and your other responsibilities outside of keeping up with your social media, you may want to consider finding a social media management tool to help.

social content calendar

An example of a social media content calendar from Statusbrew (Source)

Tips to get started:

Analyze what your competition is doing on their profiles, and seek to emulate it in a way that has the least barrier to entry. You may start off leaning on text-only posts and graphics created with a free tool before discovering the need for extra help or software. Establish a regular cadence, and strengthen your presence on one or two main platforms before expanding.

Step 6: Measure and track your results

You’ve gotten to know your audience, chosen SMART goals, selected platforms to focus your efforts on, and started posting regularly. Your social media strategy is humming along, and now it’s time to track your results to see what’s working (and improve what’s not).

Based on the KPIs you chose earlier and your overall business goals, examine the performance of your content on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Most social media platforms already have fairly robust analytics tools for you to look at, so you can start there without worrying about the need for additional software.

Pay special attention to what content works best, when you’re getting the most engagement, and how often you’re posting on average. You may notice trends like your product photos getting a lot of love, your posts getting outsized engagement during lunchtime hours, or that people on a particular platform really want to engage in conversation.

Use whatever observations you make by tweaking your strategy to take advantage of what’s working well and rethinking the less successful aspects. For example, you may discover it makes most sense to post between 1-3PM daily, and now you can schedule content ahead of time to not only be more effective, but also save some time by automating your scheduling.

Tips to get started:

Take full advantage of social media platforms’ native analytics functionality (to start). You can familiarize yourself with what to look for and experiment with some tweaks to your strategy before considering adopting social media analytics software. You may discover it’s not necessary for your business or that you need some extra help.

Scaling your social media strategy as your business grows

Following these steps to a T will allow you to market to the right people, send the right messages on the right platforms, and track your progress with key metrics that speak to your overall goals as a business.

social media strategy steps

If that wasn’t enough, you can expand this type of thinking to other areas of your marketing strategy as well. Check out the resources below to get a better understanding of the overall digital marketing landscape, and always keep an eye on the GetApp blog for more new content:

Survey methodology

* Email and Social Media Marketing Survey, 2022

GetApp conducted this survey in January 2022 among 299 respondents to learn more about small, midsize and large business email and social media marketing tactics. Respondents were screened for full-time employees of all company sizes that have involvement with marketing-related activities. They must have been working within roles including advertising, brand management, customer experience or service, data and analytics, IT, marketing, product marketing and management, sales or strategic planning and be current email and social media marketing users.

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About the author

Gary Froniewski

Content Writer
Gary Froniewski is a Content Writer at GetApp covering all things digital marketing, with a focus on emerging trends in experiential marketing. A recipient of multiple AMD Spotlight Awards for flagship product launch campaigns, he has a wealth of experience creating compelling copy to support Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. In his spare time he loves to enjoy food experiences, play tennis and disc golf, and explore nature in his home base of Austin, TX.
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